# How many p orbitals are there in a neon atom?

Nov 4, 2015

Three.

#### Explanation:

Your tool of choice for this problem will be neon's electron configuration.

Neon, $\text{Ne}$, is located in period 2, group 18 of the periodic table, and has an atomic number equal to $10$. This means that a neutral neon atom will have a total of $10$ protons in its nucleus and $10$ electrons surrounding its nucleus.

Now, neon's electron configuration, which must account for $10$ electrons, looks like this

$\text{Ne: } 1 {s}^{2} 2 {s}^{2} 2 {p}^{6}$

So, a neon atom has

• two electrons located in the 1s-orbital
• two electrons located in the 2s-orbital
• six electrons located in the 2p-orbitals

To get the number of p-orbitals you have, you can use quantum numbers. The first energy level that can hold p-orbitals is the second energy level, for which the principal quantum number, $n$, is equal to $2$.

The principal quantum numbers talls you the energy level, or shell. The angular momentum quantum number, $l$, tells you the subshell.

In your case, the p-orbitals correspond to an angular momentum quantum number equal to $1$.

Now, the number of orbitals you get per subshell is given by the magnetic quantum number, ${m}_{l}$. In your case, ${m}_{l}$ can take the values

m_l = {-1; 0; 1}

This means that you can find a total of three p-orbitals, ${p}_{x}$, ${p}_{y}$, and ${p}_{z}$, in the p-subshell.

In neon's case, since its only p-orbitals are located on the second energy level, it follows that it contains a total of three p-orbitals, $2 {p}_{x}$, $2 {p}_{y}$, and $2 {p}_{z}$. 